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Kline v. Gemini Transport, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 13, 2016

Matthew Kline, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Gemini Transport, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis United States Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS GEMINI TRANSPORT, LLC AND AMARILDO ZERE'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE TO THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT IN INDIANA [7]

          Hon. Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiffs Matthew Kline and Mark Kline, individually and on behalf of his minor daughter, Hayden Kline, brought this action on August 31, 2016 against Defendants Gemini Transport, LLC, Amarildo Zere, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc, and Delbert E. Lallathon, Jr. Plaintiffs brought negligence and vicarious liability claims against Defendants for injuries incurred in a vehicle collision in Indiana.

         This motion is fully briefed. After reviewing the parties' submissions, the Court concludes that a hearing is not necessary and that the motion can be properly decided on the papers. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion is DENIED as to dismissal and GRANTED with respect to transfer to the Southern District of Indiana.

         II. Background Facts

         According to Plaintiffs' Complaint, on February 14, 2015, Plaintiff Matthew Kline was driving southbound on I-69 in or near Washington Township, Indiana with Plaintiffs Mark and Hayden Kline as passengers. Dkt. No. 1, p. 3 (Pg. ID No. 3). Defendant Delbert Lallathon, Jr. was driving a FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. tractor-trailer southbound on I-69 when he attempted to stop for a vehicular collision in front of him. Id. at 3-4. Defendant Amarildo Zere was driving a Gemini Transport, LLC tractor-trailer southbound on I-69. Id. at 4. Defendant Zere also attempted to stop for the same crash ahead. Id. While attempting to avoid the crash ahead, Defendants Lallathon and Zere struck each other. Id. Defendant Zere then slid to the right, hitting the Kline vehicle, forcing it off the roadway and into a ditch. Id. The accident caused Matthew Kline, Mark Kline and Hayden Kline to sustain multiple injuries, including but not limited to face, neck, head and back injuries. Id. at 2.

         III. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3), a defendant may move to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint for improper venue. If a case is filed in an improper venue, the court “shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

         Venue is proper in “a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located.” Id. § 1391(b)(1) (emphasis added). A corporate defendant is “deemed to reside . . . in any judicial district in which such defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to the civil action in question.” Id. § 1391(c)(2). Venue is also proper in “a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated.” Id. § 1391(b)(2).

         “On a motion to dismiss for improper venue, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that venue is proper.” Audi AG & Volkswagen of Am., Inc. v. Izumi, 204 F.Supp.2d 1014, 1017 (E.D. Mich. 2002). The Court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve factual conflicts in favor of the plaintiff. Id. Where venue is improper, the Court has the discretion to decide whether the action should be dismissed or transferred to an appropriate court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1406.

         IV. Discussion

         In the present case, three of the Defendants may be considered residents of Michigan, while one is a resident of Illinois. See Dkt. No. 1, pp. 2-3 (Pg. ID No. 2-3). Accordingly, venue in the Eastern District of Michigan is not proper under Section 1391(b)(1). Furthermore, since the events in question occurred entirely within Indiana, venue in the Eastern District of Michigan is not proper under Section 1391(b)(2).

         Plaintiffs do not dispute that not all Defendants reside in the Eastern District of Michigan.[1]See Dkt. No. 22. Plaintiffs also do not dispute Defendants' assertion that “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” in the Southern District of Indiana, where the accident took place. See id. Instead, Plaintiffs argue that Defendants Gemini Transport, LLC and Amarildo Zere, as Michigan residents, may not object to improper venue on behalf of Defendant Delbert E. Lallathon, Jr., an Illinois resident. Id. at 2 (Pg. ID No. 117). ...


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